Laura Jean tells me that I am not allowed to use the term "bucket list" to describe the long list of things we want to do before we leave the country because that list is for things to do before you kick the bucket. And she's right that finishing up our time in Nicaragua is not remotely like dying. For one thing, we know the exact date: 41 days from today. However, a good friend did once tell me that "leaving Nicaragua is a little like grieving" and that seems about right.
It feels like we are marching through a long list of last things. Every time we visit a church or a community we are conscious that we probably won't be back soon (I won't say never) and that we are saying goodbye to friends and places. In January we attended regional assemblies in San Juan de Limay and Rosa Grande, and those may well be our last big multi-day trips to el campo, which has been such a part of our work rhythm here. More frantically, those remaining 41 days are already filled up with meetings and finalizing projects and a long list of "must dos" that seems to accelerate as we get closer to the date.
This weekend we took a few days to cross something off our "fun list" and visited the Islands of Solentiname, an archipelago of some 30 islands located in the far south of Lake Nicaragua where it drains out into the Río San Juan. The islands have an incredible cultural history: in the 1960s father Ernesto Cardenal helped organize a community there around the principles of liberation theology, and also fostered a remarkable renaissance of painters and artesans who still live and work there. The remoteness of the islands has also preserved its remarkable biodiversity. The only power on the islands comes from solar panels and there are birds everywhere. It was a great trip, although too short, as everything seems to be these days. (Pics hopefully coming soon.)
Thing I Will Miss About Nicaragua: the natural beauty of the country is remarkable and you don't have to go far outside of Managua to find it. Of course there are beautiful things everywhere you go, but I will miss the tropical forests, the surging greenery everywhere you look, the birds, even the bugs (I guess).